WASHINGTON – Kimberly Vazquez, a senior at Baltimore High School, ran into a serious problem after the outbreak began. He did not have high speed internet service at home, but all his classes were online.
Marigold Lew, a sophomore at the same school, regularly dropped out of Zoology classes because of a slow home connection.
Lewi spent a lot of time explaining the lack of greatness to teachers. Vazquez sat outside the local libraries to access their Internet access, sometimes using his telephone. The two helped launch a successful public campaign for low-income families in the city for better, free service.
“It was very chaotic,” Vazquez said. “We had to do it because no one was going to change things.”
A year after the epidemic, when the nation’s digital divide became a state of emergency in education, President Biden inherited the problem and made accessible broadband a priority, comparing it to efforts to distribute electricity across the country. Its $ 2 trillion infrastructure plan, announced Wednesday, includes $ 100 billion to extend each home’s high-speed Internet access.
The money is intended to improve the economy by allowing all Americans to work, receive medical care, and take classes where they live. Although the government has previously spent billions on the digital divide, efforts to close it have failed in part because people in different areas have different problems. Accessibility is the main culprit of citizens և suburban areas. In many rural areas, internet service is not available at all due to high installation costs.
“We will make sure every American has high-quality, affordable high-speed Internet,” Biden said in a speech on Wednesday. “And when I say affordable, I mean it. Americans pay too much for the Internet. We will lower the price for families who are currently in service. We will make it easier for families who do not have access to the service to get it now. ”
Longtime advocates for broadband say the bill, which requires congressional approval, could finally come close to fixing the digital divide, a stubborn problem first discovered by regulators during the Clinton administration. The plight of unrelated students during the epidemic has become urgent.
“This is a vision document that states that every American who needs access must have access to broadband,” said Blair Lynn, who led the 2010 National Broadband Program on the Federal Communications Commission. “And I have never heard of it before in the White House.”
Some advocates of expanding broadband access have warned that Biden’s plan may not completely address the divide between those who do not have digital assets.
Promises promises to prioritize urban, nonprofit broadband providers, but will still rely on private companies to install cables and mobile towers in remote parts of the country. One concern is that companies will not consider their efforts worthwhile, even with all the money allocated for those projects. During the electrification boom of the 1920s, private suppliers were reluctant to install loads, wires, and hundreds of miles in sparsely populated areas.
There are also many questions about how the administration plans to address accessibility. One thing is to distribute the services to the houses. Another thing is to make it cheap enough for people as soon as it gets there. The White House was meticulous on Wednesday, although it stressed that subsidies alone were not the long-term solution.
In addition, the money would reach the closed schools of the epidemic a year later, so many began to reopen their doors. As a result, many students without a good internet connection are left behind all year round.
About 25% of students do not have a proper broadband network at home, most of whom are Native American black and Latin American children. This was stated by Becky Pringle, President of the National Association of Teachers’ Education.
Biden’s plan will be tested in places like Shinley, a school district in Northeast Arizona. As in the case of electrification, the most remote houses, particularly in the land of the natives, received the service in the last place. Many homes in this isolated corner of the state today do not have the bandwidth or speeds that are so slow. Even a single magnification conference device takes up most of the bandwidth. Cell phone service does not exist in many parts or is spotty.
The school is slowly returning to the classroom. But until last week, 31 buses were sent every day with homework, flash drives with videos of math, science, history, and English lessons. Graduation rates are expected to be around 60% this year, up from 77% last year, said Kinsey Nathai, Chinley United School District Superintendent.
“It was a difficult, difficult year,” Nathai said. “There has been a great loss of education for this group.”
In the last few months, Congress has approved more than $ 10 billion to make broadband more accessible, to put more laptops in students’ hands, and to put other devices. From these funds, the FCC is working to find out how to allocate $ 7.2 billion for broadband services, devices, potential routers, and other equipment for households with school-age children.
In February, the FCC announced $ 50- $ 75 broadband subsidies for low-income families from $ 3.2 billion, which Congress provided in December to fund emergency digital distribution. Both programs provide one-time emergency funding for the broadband access exacerbated by the epidemic.
The administration’s $ 100 billion program aims to connect even the most isolated residents. 35% of rural houses without entrance. In those areas, the White House said, it would focus on “future-resistant” technology, which analysts say means other high-bandwidth fiber technologies. The administration was able to provide support to municipalities, non-profit organizations, rural electricity cooperatives, which are managed, owned by communities. Several states have banned urban broadband networks, and the FCC has thwarted attempts to overturn those restrictions in court under the Obama administration.
“Biden’s infrastructure program in Congress stands in the way.” Republicans pushed back spending. They even argue about the definition of broadband. Republicans are blocking some proposals to demand broader standards, such as 25 megabits for downloads and 25 megabits for downloads, which they say is too high for rural suppliers. These speeds will allow, for example, several family members to be in sight.
“I believe it will make it harder to serve communities that do not have broadband today,” Michael MC O’Reilly, a former MCA commissioner, told the Chamber’s Chamber of Commerce last month.
Teachers were lobbied throughout the epidemic to spread the broadband network across the country. When there was a slight relief, some took matters into their own hands.
Last April, the administrators of the Brookton, Massachusetts school district bought more than 4,000 hotspots on their own, with a federal loan. They were able to reduce the percentage of students without high-speed internet or devices from about 5% to about 30%.
Inspector Mike Thomas said the district is starting to return to classrooms և most likely to be in person all fall. But he plans to preserve many aspects of distance learning, he said, particularly after-school teaching.
In Baltimore, where households estimate that 40% do not have high-speed Internet, students and community activists struggled to raise awareness of their circumstances. Vazquez և Lew protested against Comcast, the dominant provider, for lower costs իր lower costs of his low-income program. Their group, Multicultural և Open Society students also lobbied the Maryland Legislature և prioritizing an affordable broadband network of low-income households.
“We had no choice, we deserved better,” said Vazquez.
Adam Buhmad որոշ Some community activists began installing antenna networks, shutting down hotspots in closed Baltimore schools to connect surrounding homes. Through Enn Yuri’s counterfeit antenna routers, Bhumad’s Waves provided cheap or free internet service to 120 low-income families.
Biden’s promise to support broadband alternatives may include projects such as the Bhumadd-led project, which said last year showed how Baltimore’s limited broadband options pushed it back.
“It is fantastic to invest in building infrastructure in advance and supporting ISPs,” Buhamad said. He added that in places like Baltimore, residents will continue to need federal subsidies, and that the administration should focus on broadband costs as a major barrier.
“Availability is not equal to affordability in terms of price and user experience,” he said.